Letters to my deceased parents
She’s been writing letters to her parents who died in a bomb blast. She gave me one letter to read.
When there’s a bomb blast, it takes a few seconds to realise what has happened and then you hear people screaming, dying and running like they never have.
The physical impressions last a few hours. There is sadness, there’s mourning and then for the majority it’s buried somewhere down memory lane. But then, there’s the psychological impact, where the clock keeps ticking and the bomb keeps exploding again and again and again…ad infinitum.
While investigating a recent story as to what happened to the victims of a bomb attack, I came across a 17-year-old girl who lost her parents. She lives in extreme poverty with one of her uncles, accompanied by her four siblings. The family was never paid a single rupee of compensation while she complained of harassment after her parent’s death, a reflection of which is seen in the letter.
She’s been writing a diary in which she sends letters to her parents. The following is one letter that she gave me to read. This is published as per her wish and with the consent of her guardian because she thinks nobody listens to people whose parents die. She aspires to be a novelist someday.
“I was the most loved daughter of my parents, whom I have loved more than anyone in my entire life. It was my father, who loved me more than anyone. I am sure, he would’ve still loved me the same way had he been living. But I cannot speak to them any longer, nor hear their voices. They are no more. One day, they went to the church and never came back. There was an explosion in the church. My Papa loved me more than anyone.
When Mama and Papa were alive I was very happy in my life but since they left, all that seems to be a dream now, what remains is just the suffering. My life has been altered in ways, I never cared about anything but my parents but now, I have to think twice before anything because of my younger brothers and sisters. I miss my parents; I loved them so much…
I usually sit in a corner, thinking, I respected my parents, loved them more than anything in the world. Why were they taken away from me? It would be understandable and I would not question what happened had I not given them their due respect…but why?
What now amazes me the most are those people whose parents are living and they do not care about them. They should sit with the orphans to realise when there’s no one to caress you with the warmth of a parent’s touch. When there’s no one to pray for your safety when you want someone to be there. Everyone loves you and takes care of you till your parents are living. Nobody has bothered for us, now when they are gone. Nobody can love you more than your parents
Thousand desires such that at every desire occurs another death
Many of them I have realised, yet I yearn for more (Ghalib)”
*This is a literal translation of the original text of the letter. The names have not been published to protect their identities.
In an incident that took place last night, a child, a nine-month-old child was killed when hand grenades were thrown into an Imambargah. Even someone who has been through the pain of losing a child cannot understand the feelings of the parents who lose a child to terrorism. Those who survive are now living in fear. The incident is a grim reminder of unabated sectarianism that has swept across the country. The targeting of the Hazaras in Balochistan, The migration of Hindus from Sindh or the target killings of Sikh’s in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are like the many heads of the Leviathan. Where there are many fronts to combat at, there needs to be unity as well which, under the current circumstances, is a distant dream.
In a region where death and destruction are now considered to be “routine matters”, apathy is visible in every nook and corner. As journalists working in conflict zones, we know that women and children are the first casualties of conflict. However, apathy on behalf of the state, the people and even within the communities who are victims of this violence themselves is something that is painful despite a continuum of the same thread of bomb blasts and suicide attacks. There is a generation at stake here; this letter is an exemplification of what goes through the mind of a child who passes through the traumatic experience of losing her parents, for a reason that is unknown to the innocent child. We cannot bring back those that have died but we can help the victims of war from marginalised communities by not marginalising them further. It’s time we realise we are all victims of the conflict one way or another.